Perfecting #4

Thursday, June 21, 2018

And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: (Ephesians 4:11,12 KJV).

What does “perfecting” mean here?

The Lord Jesus granted supernaturally-gifted men to the early Body of Christ so Christians would be internally repaired (remember the fisherman mending his beaten and broken nets). Using those gifted men, the Holy Spirit filled the “holes” Christians had in their spiritual knowledge, wisdom, and understanding. Remember, these saints came from various pagan, idolatrous backgrounds (see 1 Corinthians 12:1,2; Galatians 4:8; Ephesians 2:1-3; 1 Thessalonians 1:9). They had much religious tradition to abandon—especially rank spiritual inexperience. Moreover, still living among unsaved (pagan) loved ones, they were daily exposed and enticed to return to their former ways.

As today’s Scripture says, the five types of gifted men in the ministry would generate spiritual health and growth among those early Christians. God would then use these mended Christians to do the work of the ministry. The work of the ministry was the edifying of the entire Church the Body of Christ. It was a miraculous process that God the Spirit superintended; otherwise, Satan’s policy of evil (ignorance) would have prevailed.

Now, someone is bound to ask, “Brother Shawn, you keep saying the early Body of Christ. What about us today? Do we not need gifted men right now, that God’s work continue unabated?” First Corinthians chapter 13 answers: “[8] Charity never faileth: but whether there be prophecies, they shall fail; whether there be tongues, they shall cease; whether there be knowledge, it shall vanish away. [9] For we know in part, and we prophesy in part. [10] But when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away. [11] When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things. [12] For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.”

Spiritual gifts were temporary, but something permanent was coming….

Bible Q&A #505: “‘Made his arrows bright… consulted with images… looked in the liver?’

Perfecting #3

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: (Ephesians 4:11,12 KJV).

What does “perfecting” mean here?

Sin has radically changed man’s spiritual—and even physical—makeup. When a person comes to faith in Jesus Christ alone as personal Saviour, the soul is restored. It is enlightened to the things of God because of the indwelling Holy Spirit’s influence. However, the new Christian is not an automatic expert in sound Bible doctrine. Spiritual maturity is often an extremely slow process. For many Christians, unfortunately, it never comes in this life. This is not at all what God intended.

Jesus Christ, after His resurrection and ascension, gave the early Body of Christ various gifted men to bring Christians to a fuller understanding of His doctrine (cf. today’s Scripture). Father God does not want immature infants or toddlers as His children; He wants adults, fully grown men and women who are skilled in His Word and will for this the Dispensation of Grace. Children are easily deceived, but not adults.

Today’s Scripture in context: “[11] And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; [12] For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: [13] Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ: [14] That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive; [15] But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ: [16] From whom the whole body fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, maketh increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love.”

In this succinct snapshot (a single sentence!), we see the functions of the local church….

Family!

Thursday, May 3, 2018

For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus. For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus (Galatians 3:26-28 KJV).

When grace saints gather in one place from various parts around the world, these “complete strangers” soon feel like they have known each other for years. This is the bond the Holy Spirit initiates because of sound doctrine.

You could stay with these brethren, studying and conversing with them, for hours upon hours. They feel like family—yea, they are family! It is like a pleasurable reunion of old friends. Today’s Scripture says all who have trusted Jesus Christ as their personal Saviour are “children of God:” regardless of nationality, social status, or sex, they have all been baptized by the Holy Spirit into the Church the Body of Christ (1 Corinthians 12:13; cf. today’s Scripture).

If sound Bible doctrine is given supremacy—that is, Jesus Christ’s teaching is preeminent—unity will be manifested. Harmony does not mean we agree on every last doctrinal point. It means we agree that the King James Bible rightly divided is our final authority. We have believed on Jesus Christ dying for our sins, His burial, and His resurrection as sufficient payment for our sins (1 Corinthians 15:3,4). We know that Paul is our apostle (Romans 11:13). We believe that we are the Church the Body of Christ rather than the nation Israel (Romans 11:25). We understand that we live in the mystery program, not the prophetic program (Acts 3:21; Romans 16:25). We appreciate that we are under grace rather than law (Romans 6:14,15).

Sadly, like all families, the Body of Christ suffers from sibling rivalry and infighting. Numerous foreign ideas creep in, are accepted, and likeminded believers thus become increasingly incompatible. Jesus Christ is pushed aside so self can be emphasized. Doctrine is abandoned for the sake of unity. Charity disappears. The Body of Christ becomes an impotent entity, a fragmented group that loses sight of its identity and purpose. However, in due time, Father God, will make it right. After all, they are His family too!

One More Verse!

Sunday, April 29, 2018

“And the brethren immediately sent away Paul and Silas by night unto Berea: who coming thither went into the synagogue of the Jews. These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so” (Acts 17:10,11 KJV).

“One more verse.” Have you ever heard that before?

Berean Bible preachers have one particular characteristic: they have many verses to share! Rather than studying everything but the Bible to prepare their messages, they have actually opened Scripture and compared verses. They use similar verses to shed light on each other, thus letting God’s Word interpret itself. The Holy Spirit therefore has maximum control over the whole situation. It minimizes the chance of opinions and church tradition slipping in.

You can sit and listen to a man “teach the Bible,” and know good and well whether or not he actually prepared for it. If his comments are disjointed, scattered throughout and lacking a common theme, he just “threw something together” at the “last minute.” His words serve no purpose other than to give him attention and make him appear like he is telling you what God wanted you to hear. When he uses a scant number of (or no) verses in his messages, he may actually have something to hide. Beware!

The preachers I have found to be most enjoyable over the years are not those with one verse to read and a dozen stories and jokes to supplement. You will find the few who say, “One more verse,” and as if they were about to close, they add, “Oh, if we could do ‘just one more’ verse.” Every time they try to conclude their message, a new thought forms, another Scripture comes to mind, and they want to read it. This is okay, within reason. If the message goes on and on (like half the length of what was already spoken), it is time to shut it down. Yet, if an hour message runs five or ten minutes over, (indeed) there is always one other verse to summarize. These preachers have studied well, and should be tolerated. They have a good reason for reading that “one more verse!” 🙂

NOTE: Today is the final day of the “Soldiers Training for Service” Bible conference. Tune in at 9/9:30ish A.M. Central U.S. Standard Time at the following website: http://understandgrace.com/watch-live/.

Silenced!

Sunday, March 18, 2018

For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind. Be not thou therefore ashamed of the testimony of our Lord, nor of me his prisoner: but be thou partaker of the afflictions of the gospel according to the power of God; (2 Timothy 1:7,8 KJV).

Without further delay, we need to preach sound Bible doctrine.

Brethren, Satan has a two-fold strategy for hindering God’s will. In “phase 1,” he attacks the message. Remember, his first words in Scripture are in Genesis 3:1: Yea, hath God said, Ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden? Satan’s chief goal is to question (challenge) God’s Word, thus removing it as the authority. After repeatedly distorting the Bible, he outright denied it in verse 4. Satan effectually enticed Adam and Eve to corrupt, and thereby abandon, sound Bible doctrine.

If the saint maintains and defends sound Bible doctrine, not relinquishing it, then Satan begins “phase 2.” Satan’s objective here is to attack the messenger, to somehow silence him—through intimidation, hardship, embarrassment, discouragement, and so on. This is where we find Timothy in today’s Scripture. In 1 Timothy, he had dealt with false teaching in Ephesus. He has remained faithful to the grace message, having not compromised with the legalists. Satan has failed to get Timothy to pervert grace.

Now, in 2 Timothy (today’s Scripture), Timothy’s face is damp with “tears” (verse 4). He is crying, emotionally exhausted, overwhelmed by opposition and distress in the ministry. As Paul writes, pervasive doctrinal error exists now: “This thou knowest, that all they which are in Asia be turned away from me; of whom are Phygellus and Hermogenes” (verse 15). Most Christians have now abandoned Paul’s doctrine, preferring legalism and other heresies. Dejected Timothy has surrendered, having ceased (!) preaching Pauline doctrine (verse 6).

Paul, imprisoned far away in Rome for preaching God’s grace through Christ, is moved by the Holy Spirit to encourage Timothy to not be ashamed (today’s Scripture). “Timothy, remember who you are and where you came from. God’s power will get you through your situations. Share in those afflictions that accompany the Gospel! No matter what happens, boldly preach!” (Brethren, may we do likewise.)

Shunned!

Friday, March 16, 2018

Blessed are ye, when men shall hate you, and when they shall separate you from their company, and shall reproach you, and cast out your name as evil, for the Son of man’s sake (Luke 6:22 KJV).

Without further delay, we need to be joyful when people shun us for our Christian testimony.

A dear brother in Christ once shared some very insightful comments about us separating from the world. If we have a Christian testimony—a life “filled with the fruits of righteousness, which are by Jesus Christ, unto the glory and praise of God” (Philippians 1:11)—the world will actually separate from us! That is, our sound Bible doctrine will drive them away from us. At that point, they will not care to hear or see us (they will have already discovered our affection and forcefully announced to us, “No thanks!!”).

“Stop talking about God so much! Only weirdoes study Scripture to that extent! Close that Bible and go away! You have a social/mental/developmental disorder!” We are outcasts: they want nothing to do with us. They see us as “fanatics,” “kooks,” “crazies” who need to be locked away forever in some institution. This is to be expected; marvel not, dear brethren. They said of our Lord Jesus Christ in John 10:20: “And many… said, He hath a devil, and is mad [crazy!!]; why hear ye him?” Festus said: “Paul, thou art beside thyself [a raving maniac!!]; much learning doth make thee mad [insane!!]” (Acts 26:24).

Since we who have trusted Christ Jesus have the indwelling Holy Spirit, He gives us desires natural (lost) people lack. They thus consider our behavior unconventional and farcical. First Peter 4:3-4 speaks of the Little Flock that will experience a similar “sticking out” in the evil world system: “For the time past of our life may suffice us to have wrought the will of the Gentiles, when we walked in lasciviousness, lusts, excess of wine, revellings, banquetings, and abominable idolatries: Wherein they think it strange that ye run not with them to the same excess of riot, speaking evil of you:….”

If this is what we must endure, saints, then let us endure it with joy unspeakable. The world avoids us, but (most importantly) we have eternal fellowship with God.

Bible Q&A #475: “What did Jesus mean, ‘Take up your cross?’

Spiritual!

Sunday, March 11, 2018

“If any man think himself to be a prophet, or spiritual, let him acknowledge that the things that I write unto you are the commandments of the Lord” (1 Corinthians 14:37 KJV).

Without further delay, we need to be spiritual!

What does it mean to be “spiritual?” If you asked 100 people, you would get 100 different answers. We need not wonder as to the correct response. God’s Spirit, the Author of today’s Scripture, led the Apostle Paul to identify the standard for true spirituality in this the Dispensation of Grace. Rather than conditioned upon giving, praying, hand raising, performing miracles, singing, dancing, and speaking in tongues, spirituality is all about whether we listen to God’s spokesman to us Gentiles. “Spiritual” means that the Holy Spirit is leading you. The Holy Ghost wants you to know that His apostle of us Gentiles is Paul (Romans 11:13; cf. Acts 26:14-18). Do you believe that… or not (1 Corinthians 14:38)?

If someone is a “prophet”—speaking on God’s behalf—then he will acknowledge that the Lord Jesus Christ is speaking in and through the Apostle Paul. If someone is “spiritual”—controlled by God’s Spirit—then he will acknowledge that Paul is God’s spokesman to us in the Dispensation of Grace. Ephesians 3:1-5: “For this cause I Paul, the prisoner of Jesus Christ for you Gentiles, If ye have heard of the dispensation of the grace of God which is given me to you-ward: How that by revelation he made known unto me the mystery; (as I wrote afore in few words, Whereby, when ye read, ye may understand my knowledge in the mystery of Christ) Which in other ages was not made known unto the sons of men, as it is now revealed unto his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit;….”

First Corinthians 3:1-3 speaks of three categories of Christians. Firstly, there are the numerous “babes,” those who can handle only Bible basics, spiritual milk instead of solid food (remember Hebrews 5:11-14?). Secondly, we have the countless “carnal” Christians, those constantly driven by the flesh’s sinful desires. Lastly, there are the “spiritual” believers, the few who are able to delve into deep Bible truths. Beloved, are we interested in doing God’s will? Do we want to be “spiritual?” Then, we had better believe today’s Scripture!